Open Access

If you have any questions about open access, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Many scientific publishers charge publication fees for Open Access Gold, which is known as article processing charges (APCs) or book processing charges (BPCs). These charges vary greatly in amount, with Hybrid OA generally costing significantly more than Gold OA. Reputable Open Access journals are transparent about their APCs and communicate them clearly on their websites. For further information on evaluating journals, see this checklist.

What kind of funding is available to finance publication costs


Open Access Publication Fund

The University of Bern supports its researchers with an Open Access Fonds to cover APCs and BPCs:

  • APCs for articles in Open Access Gold: max. Fr 2,500.-
  • BPCs for books and book chapters in Open Access Gold: max. Fr 8'000.-

Read & Publish Deals

The University of Bern has signed Read & Publish agreements with a number of publishers. 

In most of the journals of these publishers, researchers of the University of Bern and the Insel can publish in Open Access without APCs.


  • The SNSF provides its recipients with grants to finance the open access publication of scientific publications (articles and books). However, the SNSF does not support hybrid OA. You can apply for funding directly at the SNF via ChronosHub. Further information including funding requirements can be found here.
  • H2020 ERC: The EU finances the open access publication of its recipients' scientific publications (articles and books), including hybrid OA. However, Open Access publication charges must come out of a project's dissemination costs.


The university library is part of a swiss consortium-agreement with MDPI, which guarantees all researchers at Bern University, the University of Teacher Education Bern and the Insel-Hopital a discount of 20% on Open Access publishing charges. Authors are recognized by their institutional email address and automatically notified of their eligibility for the discount.

Professor Reto M. Hilty, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law and Full Professor at the University of Zurich, and Dr Matthias Seemann, a lawyer at Vischer AG, were commissioned by the University of Zurich to produce a legal opinion on the operation of repositories. Special emphasis is placed on republication in repositories.

Legal opinion:
Hilty, Reto M.; Seemann, Matthias (2009): Open Access – Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Publikationen im schweizerischen Recht [Open Access – Access to scientific publications in Swiss law]. Legal opinion commissioned by the University of Zurich. Zurich.

Further information may be found in the FAQs of Zurich Central Library.

The authors of academic and artistic works use Creative Commons licences to specify the legal conditions under which their works may be published, disseminated and used. The licences are available in over 60 languages and are legally valid throughout the world. They feature a variety of icons which indicate the conditions that must be respected during re-use. They are therefore easy to understand, and users know exactly what they may use the works for – even if they do not have legal expertise.

CC licences function as a modular system. The licence conditions can be combined with each other, giving a choice of six different licences in all. Depending on the combination, a liberal or restrictive use of the content may be permitted.

Funding agencies and universities recommend the use of the most open licence, such as CC BY.

Suggested reading:

Further information:

There are thousands of Open Access journals, with new ones starting up almost daily.

Unfortunately, there are a number of untrustworthy journals and publishers on the market. These are known as “predatory journals”, and provide an unsatisfactory service – or none at all – in return for publication fees. Such journals are usually easy to identify: their websites are full of spelling mistakes, they promise an unrealistic turn-around from submission to publication (including peer-review) and/or they aggressively try to attract submissions. However, some predatory journals are better at hiding their shady nature. For instance, their web presence may be flawless or they may give the name of a renowned scientist as the editor, even though the latter knows nothing about it.

Predatory journals checklist

Consult this checklist to help you evaluate (OA) journals.

Coffee lectures on predatory journals and conferences

If you and your colleagues would like to learn more - the Open Science Team offers Coffee Lectures on the topic. If you are interested, contact us at

Suggested reading:

Further information

In accordance with the LERU petition and the DORA initiative, Bern University Library supports alternative, non-profit Open Access initiatives.

Bern University Library currently supports the following initiatives:

Bern University Library is a member of:

If you know of an OA initiative that should be supported contact us.

Open Access publications are available online free of charge. They make use of a licence which safeguards the author's rights without hindering the use of the text for academic and teaching purposes.

Further information

Open Access offers numerous advantages:

  • OA publications are available to everyone immediately, free of charge
  • OA publications are easier to find via search engines and reference services
  • OA publications achieve a high level of visibility and are read and cited more often
  • The distribution rights remain with the authors
  • OA promotes the dissemination and re-use of research findings
  • Open Access fosters collaboration and speeds up research

There are a number of ways to provide Open Access.

Green OA

Green Open Access refers to self-archiving or republishing previously published articles on a publicly accessible document server (institutional or subject-specific repository). In contrast to storing articles on websites, repositories are easier to search, they collate the research outputs of a particular institution in one place, and assure long-term archiving. In many cases, the accepted manuscript (post-print, author’s manuscript after peer review) or the pre-print version (author’s manuscript before peer review) must be used when making an article or book available in Open Access Green. Depending on the publisher, some post-prints cannot be made available until after a certain embargo period. Please note that these embargo periods may differ from those accepted by research funders (see also "Research Funding and Open Access")
An overview of the Open Access Green policies of various publishers and journals can be found at Sherpa/Romeo.

Gold OA

The Gold route is a way of publishing research immediately in Open Access. The publication is freely accessible immediately, ideally with a Creative Commons licence, which allows it to be re-used and disseminated. In some cases, publication fees, known as APCs (Author Processing Charges) are payable.
A list of Open Access journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

A list of Open Access books can be found in the Directory od Open Access Books.

Diamond OA

The Diamond route is a sub-category of Gold Open Access. Diamond Open Access refers to Open Access publications for which no publication fees are charged. 

Hybrid OA

The Hybrid route refers to initial publication with Open Access in subscription-based journals. Publication of the article is often “paid for” by means of author processing charges (APCs) that are often very high. The University of Bern is wary of this model because it leads to fees being paid twice – once through a subscription to the journal, and once through the APCs. This procedure is known as “double dipping”. Please note that the Swiss National Science Foundation no longer pays Hybrid Open Access fees.

More and more funding agencies and institutions require free access to publications and research data.


The SNSF supports the principle of Open Access and expects its grant recipients to make their research results publicly available for re-use, promptly and in electronic form.

Since 1 April 2018, published books have to be freely accessible after 12 months. 

You can find detailed information about the SNSF regulations here.


All Horizon2020 beneficiaries are obliged to make their peer-reviewed scientific publications available in Open Access. They are free to choose either the Green or the Gold route.

Publications in the STEM subjects must become available in Open Access no later than six months after publication; the deadline for the social sciences and humanities is 12 months. The EU offers an addendum to publishing contracts (see below), which enables authors to make their peer-reviewed articles available in Open Access green (as a post-print) within the maximum embargo.

Additionally, all funded projects are by default enrolled in the H2020 Open Data pilot project. In cases where data cannot be made openly available, it is possible to opt out partially or completely. Researchers will have to provide reasons for their decision.

Background information and a detailed explanation of the options and workflows can be found below in the PDF"H2020 ERC Open Access Compliance". There is also a PDF with a short summary. A decision tree on Open Access & Open Data rules and compliance is also available below.

The official EU rules and guidelines on "Open Access & Data Management" can be found here.

Further information

Concerning solutions:

Concerning the SNSF:

At the end of 2015, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) commissioned swissuniversities and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to devise a national strategy for Open Access publications. The Open Access Strategy envisions that all publicly funded publications will be freely accessible by 2024. 

Further information may be found here.

The University of Bern supports Open Access as described in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities which it signed in 2007, and declares that Open Access is a strategic objective. The Open Access Policy is in line with the Open Access Guidelines of the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW); it does not interfere with the free choice of publication media or with academic freedom. The University has approved the following guidelines:

  1. The University of Bern requires its researchers to deposit a full version of all peer-reviewed and published academic work and the corresponding bibliographical information in the institutional repository of the University of Bern. This makes the academic work publicly available through Open Access, provided that there are no legal obstacles.
  2. The University of Bern encourages its researchers to publish their research results in Open Access journals, where appropriate journals exist.
  3. As of the 2014 reporting year, research evaluation and academic reports at the University of Bern are supported by the institutional repository of the University of Bern.

The University of Bern supports the implementation of these guidelines by operating an institutional repository which allows the University’s researchers to deposit their publications and the corresponding metadata.

Clarifications on practical implementation:

  • In relation to publishers, researchers retain the right to make their publications publicly accessible via the University of Bern repository – after the expiry of any applicable embargo period.
  • If this option is not available, the bibliographical information of the publications is deposited together with a full version of the text, which is protected from public access in the repository. 

If you have any questions please contact us via our e-mail address

This e-mail address is monitored by everyone in the Open Access team so we can answer your queries efficiently.


Upcoming events on the topic of Open Access can be found on our main page or under "Services"

General Information  

  • is a central resource for all things Open Access (OA). It covers a wide range of disciplines and caters to many target groups.

Open-Access-Inhalte finden 

  • Base is a search enginge specialised in finding scholarly web-documents, particularly full texts in OA. The search enginge is maintained according to scientific standards and those set by the OA-community.  
  • CORE is a meta-search engine that aims at the searchability of all OA-materials from repositories and journals worldwide. Both metadata and content can also be accessed via an application programming interface (API).
  • Open Knowledge Maps is a non-commercial graphic explorer that offers a fast overview of any given research topic and shows central concepts and related discussions. It builds on the metadata from the search engines BASE and PubMed. 
  • Directory of Open Access Books is an international database for OA books in all disciplines. All works are peer-reviewed. DOAB features big publishing houses such as Springer, Taylor & Francis, or De Gruyter as well as smaller publishing houses and university presses.  
  • PubMedCetral is a full-text repository for medical, biomedical and other life-science research. 
  • DART Europe is a search portal to find European dissertations. The University of Bern's OA dissertations on BORISTheses are also indexed. 

Where and how can I publish in OA?  

  • Directory of Open Access Journals is a central index of OA-Journals in all disciplines. In order to get listed, journals undergo a very strict review process. This is an ideal entry-point to find a suitable OA-Journal. Try the "Browse Subjects" function! 
  • Sherpa/Romeo is an aggregator collecting and analysing OA information of journal publishers worldwide. The information is then published for each journal in a short summary that tells users everything they need to know about embargo periods, licences and self-archiving options of any given journal.
  • ThinkCheckSubmit helps researchers find trustworthy journals and decide what to do about predatory publishers. The website offers checklists and other instruments. 

Browser extensions for quick OA Access  

These extensions indicate whether an article a user is viewing online is available in OA: OA Button and Unpaywall for Chrome und Firefox, Open Access Helper for Safarii.